Where are you Mr President?

HARARE - Yesterday marked about thirty-six days since President Robert Mugabe took leave and went on his controversial Far East holiday, amid a rising chorus of criticism of the nonagenarian’s continued absence.

Although unconfirmed reports suggested at the weekend that Mugabe would finally be back in the country today or tomorrow, what has upset many Zimbabweans is the fact that the country’s myriad challenges have worsened by the day in his absence, largely as a result of his ruling Zanu PF party’s escalating factional and succession wars.

Analysts who spoke to the Daily News yesterday bemoaned the fact that neither the “World War Three” that had erupted in his party in his absence, nor the country’s worsening economic environment, as well as disasters such as the recent floods, had motivated the nonagenarian to come back home.

Mugabe flew out of the country on December 14 last year and had not been reported to be back by early evening yesterday, leading one analyst to remark that he had “earned himself a significant place in the Guinness Book of World Records as the only head of State who spends so much time on holiday outside his own country”.

Since Mugabe was barred from travelling to Europe more than a decade ago, he has been enjoying lengthy and costly State-funded holidays in the Far East, while back home people are wallowing in abject poverty — with his current break noted as one of the longest he has had in years.

It has not helped the national mood that Mugabe has never been reported to have spent his annual break either at home or even on the continent — despite his strong Pan-African rhetoric.

And the fact that Mugabe, who is the chairman of Sadc, had been conspicuous by his absence from the recent inauguration of the new Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi, had also ignited speculation around his whereabouts, health and political game plan.

Nyusi was sworn in as independent Mozambique’s fourth president on Thursday last week, following Frelimo’s contested election victory last October — with opposition leader Afonso Dhlakama boycotting the ceremony and insisting that last year’s vote was fraudulent.

Analysts who spoke to the Daily News yesterday said unless Mugabe was physically not well enough to resume duty, it reflected poorly on him that “everything in the country was going the wrong way and yet the country’s chief executive officer” did not feel moved to come back to try and mitigate the nation’s myriad crises.

Among the problems bedevilling the country is the worsening economic situation across the board, as well as the deteriorating political climate in the country, spawned by escalating infighting within his ruling party that the analysts say is set to worsen the country’s desperate plight.

Shakespeare Hamauswa, a political scientist, said any “level-headed and patriotic citizen” would expect Mugabe to come back and deal with the challenges bedevilling Zimbabwe, especially considering that acting President Emmerson Mnangagwa was new to the job and battling to rise up to the challenges of the office.

Mcdonald Lewanika, Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition director, weighed in and said history had sadly shown that there were few things that could come “between Mugabe and his retreats to the Far East”.

“While Mugabe, like everyone else, deserves to rest, it betrays his ‘I don’t care’ attitude when he earns this rest and enjoys himself when the country is plagued by a humanitarian, economic and political crisis needing urgent leadership for redress,” he said.

Lewanika added that it also appeared as if the recent challenge to his leadership by prominent Zanu PF members such as former Presidential Affairs minister Didymus Mutasa did not pressure Mugabe to cut his holiday short, as this challenge presented an opportunity for him to have “the powers of his vice presidents checked rather than consolidated”.

“Secondly, Mugabe thrives on confusion and contradictions, which take peoples’ focus away from real issues to minor ones, which the Mutasa case is. It is an internal party challenge, a political fight which should not sway Zimbabweans’ attention from demanding that he addresses bread and butter issues,” he said.

Dewa Mavhinga, a senior researcher with Human Rights Watch, said it was pointless for Zimbabweans to wish that Mugabe cuts short his holiday to address the issues confronting the nation.

“The truth of the matter is that there is little difference whether Mugabe is in the country or in Singapore. Effectively, the country has been on auto-pilot for a long time now.

“Instead of calling for Mugabe to return to duty, we should be thinking seriously about facilitating a constitutional process through which Mugabe, who turns 91 next month, is retired from government to enable him to be permanently on holiday if he so wishes,” Mavhinga said.

“We must stop behaving like Mugabe. The same person who has presided over our political and economic demise has no solutions to offer Zimbabwe. We must wake up and smell the coffee and think post-Mugabe,” he added.

Mavhinga said the fact that Mugabe was on this prolonged holiday was testimony enough that he needed to retire and rest.

“The government that he leads set compulsory retirement age for civil servants at 65 years for a reason. We are all mortal and there is no escaping that,” he said.

Political analyst Maxwell Saungweme said no right-thinking president would leave his country in the current state to an acting president, as it was akin to “running on auto pilot”.

“The truth is that the president is turning 91 in a few weeks’ time. He  is now of an advanced age and needs a break.

“That he is on some supposed holiday or leave when his country is burning and his party is in total chaos begs us to think that all is not well with him and points to his growing inability to run the country at that age,” Saungweme said.

He added that government was literally “at a stand-still” owing to the brutal infighting in Zanu PF.

“Recently, many people died due to floods. These issues alone in other normal countries would demand the full attention of the head of state.

“If it were other countries, he would have cut his break short instead of leaving all these challenges to an acting president who has shown that he is incapable of running the business of a country.

“Look at what (Vice President Emmerson) Mnangagwa is doing, he is busy fighting (former vice president Joice) Mujuru and Mutasa and making very serious bluffs with his government’s supposed allies.

“With a government that is trying to look East, how could he liken Grace Mugabe to an atomic bomb, carelessly saying that as an acting head of State at the expense of losing the sympathy and support of a progressive country like Japan,” he said — referring to Mnangagwa’s address at a recent Zanu PF meeting in Gweru, where running to town praising Grace for her “sterling contributions” to the party.

“The women in the party approached the First Lady Amai Grace Mugabe and requested that she comes over and lead them. We were not involved and twice she refused. They continued pestering her until she relented.

“We did not know at the time that President Robert Mugabe was keeping a political atomic bomb at his house. She is like that bomb dropped on Hiroshima during the Second World War,” Mnangagwa said controversially.

Many critics sledged Mnangagwa’s metaphor as grossly inappropriate and said this risked upsetting Zimbabwe’s otherwise cordial diplomatic relations with Japan.

Comments (47)

regai president vazorore. if he is not on holiday you wish he took leave. when he does you disapprove of it. where exactly do we stand mazimba? regai vakuru vazorore.

taurai - 20 January 2015

the president deserves rest sometimes yu guys you report he is ill,dead lying to the nation.he deserves the holiday he is the head of state why do you want to confuse zim citizens

robert - 20 January 2015

@taurai and robert. Of course we all want him to rest, not just for one month, two months, etc...he should REST!!

selele - 20 January 2015

Hazvishamise pamwe kakatokanganwa kudzoka.Ko kakurazve.Izvozvi Grace ari kukanyepera kuti tichiri muna December 2014.

chamboko - 20 January 2015

Mugabe is not an ordinary worker in Zimbabwe.His prolonged stay outside the country is a very unnecessary expense to us.He can rest at his home or in Zvimba rural if it is necessary.He has proved beyond doubt that he can only ruin the economy of this country.He is now a big liability to us all. Nobody really needs him here.His presence here will not make any meaningful difference to our economy.The war he created in his party now haunts him.

RONGEKAYI - 20 January 2015

Robert Mugabe deserves a rest. He should rest for good and never come back.

Edzai - 20 January 2015

It's quite a big recommendation to wish Mugabe was back from leave! “Leave from a sinecure” I would call it. By this I mean Mugabe causes more harm when he is around doing absolutely nothing but impede everyone. Everything he touches turns to dust. Mugabe is deadweight. He grabs headlines but for the wrong reasons. Mugabe and Ndabaningi Sithole were teachers at Dadaya Mission in 1945 but Sithole failed to understand Mugabe's enigmatic character. Ndabaningi Sithole said “Mugabe had been odd right from the start. Sithole went on, “He was so impossibly self-absorbed. “You never knew what he was thinking, except that it probably had to do with himself. “There was little about team spirit about the man, though I wouldn't call him arrogant, rather aloof. “Sometimes he would discuss issues with other teachers and, on other occasions, you would ask him something and he would just look at you and not reply, as though your question was not important enough for him to consider. “When he wanted something, he would charm anyone and get his own way. “But when you needed a favour, Robert was probably the last person you would ask. “It was rather a one way street with him, and I got the impression that he put himself first in everything. “Even so you forgave him because of the bright mind that made you believe here was a man with potential to do something really great. “Sadly, in later years, that intellect was used for evil instead of good, and I wondered if it hadn't even driven him mad. “Or perhaps he was always near the edge to begin with”.

Musona - 20 January 2015

Mugabe does not deserve any meaningful rest.Surely we can't reward someone for destroying our economy.He's just our liability & I personally will never mourn his departure from office.

INJUSTICE - 20 January 2015

Kkkkkkk dhi negotsi, Chamboko wandipedza. Shuwa Gire anokanyepera paanenge achikachinja mapamper! Taura hako.

Charlie Hebdoore - 20 January 2015

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Blessing - 20 January 2015

please please mr president do not come back. please njoy ur holiday forever.

petros - 20 January 2015

He does this every single January and usually the rumour mill begins to work overtime. I am not getting caught up in rumours again. He is bound to pop up somewhere. He like to keep people guessing. He just needs to go. Motormouth ZPF told Zimbabwe that after the 'illegal congress,' or whatever they call it the they would be making an all out effort to solve our economic woes. If they really want to do that I have the answer: resign en masse and give Zimbabwe the free and fair election it needs. You guys aint gonna solve nuthin!!!!!

TruthBTold - 20 January 2015

Gushungo is irrelevant mufunge stop with these self serving political commentaries that do not address, shyte. Zim needs to be shocked electrically into the 21st century!!

John Madhir' - 20 January 2015

who doesnt have leave days at his/her company. leave him alone

wind - 20 January 2015

The situation we are in is almost similar to that of a family with a dead beat father who does nothing to fend for his own children, when he comes back it means nothing other than just another hungry mouth to feed and the occasional verbal and physical abuse on the struggling mother and kids. Whether Mugabe is here, in the Orient or Honolulu, it all makes no never minds, no difference. With all the troubles in his beloved party that await his attention and the fact that his gregarious wife Grace has 'her' land issue to sort out and a new role in the Women's League to enjoy, his long absence can only point to something not right - his health. How big was the entourage he took with him this time around by the way? What's needed now are fresh elections because both ZANU PF and MDC are torn right down the middle with both parties having their own 'Renewal teams'. There is no clear cut stand alone party in our parliarment now, all are now opposition parties making unnecessary noises that take us nowhere but backwards.

Dr Know - 20 January 2015

Blessing why dont u try fliers, nobody wants a tax clearence cert on this forum. You and your business are cursed indeed. We are busy discussin abt the old man, iwe wakutotsvaka mashereni, uri bharanzi chairo! Nxaaa.

Charlie Hebdoore - 20 January 2015

Let him rest. Him and his cronies have overcome everyone but, apparently not age. We should be considerate and allow our president 12 months leave a year given his special circumstances.

Sarah - 20 January 2015

He is taking his own queen shopper (like Imelda Marcos) wherever she wants to “Gucci” to herself. His entourage of bling hungry cling-ons go along for the boozing & shopping ride. The head honcho meanwhile has had more cornea and hair colouring with transplants; enemas and rectal radioactive isotope implants. Naturally he spent time with his private banker and his multi-functional urologist.

Marian Mhloyi - 20 January 2015

Rest from what? The guy is on vacation everyday. He never does any work. What some of you people don't know is he is spending cloes to $100, 000 USD per day with his family, security and other aides. That is a big cost for a poor country with 99% unemployment rate. He needs to come home and retire and rest at his rural Zvimba manson. Musona i like your article....As for Mnangagwa he is proving to be very uneducated and not a leader at all. We are really in trouble if we get Mnangagwa as our next president. Mnagwagwa is just a useless killer.Education is not degrees by the way.

mashonaland - 20 January 2015

Well the man is sick and is still under care of doctors he will never comeback until doctors say so . The old chat is no longer living naturally but on medication . This thing of saying he is on vacation leave is a cover up he goes there for treatments particularly cancer treatments nothing else He is sick or he felt sick while jabuling there hence delaying his return.Sometimes people just talk for the sake of it suwa how can a sane grown up able bodied human being can wish a semi blind ,frail ,with retarded memory ,who is under severe pain from advanced cancer to solve your problems?..That is ridiculous indeed .You want ndonda:( isihubasakutsha to wake up from his dying bed and fix national problems before he fixes his worsening health eish!!!!!!!! that is a first of its own kind in the world and only happening in zim .

Diibulaanyika - 20 January 2015

Meanwhile Mutasa knows well what is happening with Mugabe hence he is hard talking like that .Uyagula umdala wethu .

Diibulaanyika - 20 January 2015

Whether Robert Mugabe is in the country or not makes no difference. We would be confronted with same economic quagmire. So why all the fuss about his absence. We could care less about the internal Zanu pf squabbles, some people prioritize Zanu more than the Nation. I respect Simba Makoni's response to Mutasa that priority should be focused on fixing Zimbabwe as he was no longer interested in Zanu pf 's Moribund state. Here we have Makoni having a National Outlook, rather than Mutasa who worships Zanu pf like many others. Zimbabwe is more important than mere political parties, for too long time we have put a lot of trust in Politicians. We are equally disappointed by the opposition political parties. We are blighted by dogma as everywhere else in the world, politicians are given the mandate to govern. We have a CRISIS in Zimbabwe and when are we finally going to wake up? We cannot entrust politicians alone to take us out of this quagmire, all stakeholders in the country must come together anad chart a way forward. Industrialists, Economists,Clergymen,Employee organisations, Political parties, Entrepreneurs, Military and many other stakeholders must come to platform which charts the way forward for The Zimbabwe we want. Non-partisan leaders need to be placed in the interim to Chair this Platform. These leaders must must be technorats with proven track records. We are tired of inept leadership

Tawa - 20 January 2015

chamboko hauite wandipedza, but back to serious busuness mugabe is on extended leave until further notice

Harare - 20 January 2015

There are others who saw the weaknesses, flaws and fallacies of Zanu Pf for what it is as far back as 1980 (Ndebeles). Then there others who began to see these fallacies in the 90's (Tekere). Then there are others like me who began to them in 2000(Democrats/diasporans). At one stage we were all admirers of Robert Mugabe. Then there were others who saw began to see the fallacies in late 2000s (Mujuru/Maknoni/Mavambo). Then there were others who have recently begun to see the flaws, but were sidelined (Mutasa/Team Gamatox). Some were very aware of these fallacies but had their reservations. Others still within the system are aware of these flaws and weaknesses, but are only within for self preservation. Then there are those who manipulate the gullible and thrive on these weaknesses (Weevils). The Gullible will eventually see the light and tell the difference between right and wrong, the self preservation ones who have long known the difference between black and white will agitate for a new vibrant prosperous Zimbabwe. In order for a tree to survive, old leaves have to fall off to make way for new leaves. The longer old leaves hang on the tree decomposes like the state of our economic well-being, roads and infrastructure.

Tawa - 20 January 2015

[ Should have read]The longer the old leaves hang on to the tree, the tree decomposes like the state of our economic well-being, roads and infrastructure.

Tawa - 20 January 2015

TEACHERS HAVE A TERMS VACATION SO MAYBE HE WILL BE BACK IN MAY

FUNMAN - 20 January 2015

@selele in most cases we agree but this time you seem to have taken the side of musona and the other friends how come? is it not nice if we respected our leader and allow him to go on vacation just like they do in many other countries? kana zororo rapera president vanouya. pls don't worry yourselves too much.

taurai - 20 January 2015

Mugabe is getting a "Re- boot". He is medically being "re-juiced". When he arrives he will dress down mutasa who is highly flammable and playing with matches . The country is dead, and there is nothing to hurry back to this "now rubble country".

X-MAN IV - 20 January 2015

MUGABE'S RETURN WILL SAVE THE NATION THE MOUNTING BILL WHICH IS $12 MILLION AT LEAST; OTHER THAN THAT THERE IS NOTHING ELSE TO BE GAINED FROM HIS RETURN - HE IS THAT USELESS!

Wilbert Mukori - 21 January 2015

We all talk about 'rest.' There is no rest for the wicked. Does a person go out for a drink at the local when his house is on fire????? I am coming very close to voting for Itai Dzamara for president. He seems to be the only one actually doing something and speaking sense:

Freedom4Zim - 21 January 2015

Emmerson is a lose canon and so is his mouth. He lacks diplomatic touch and can only be vice president where people like Mugabe rule. He loves violence and thrives in it, thus his involvement in the Gukurahundi. I wonder why the issue of age was not taken care of in the new constitution - or no Zanu PF would not allow that one through. So, Dydimus, shut up - but who are you going to boot lick to nature your corruption? Asi wakambonakigwa wena. Mugabe's presence makes not difference to this country's problems because Mugabe loves it this way - because and poverty make people stupid and vulnerable so the vulture can keep on pricking.

clement moyo - 21 January 2015

Mugabe's holiday is long finished. Why extend it indefinitely? His return'll help cut the bill for the country & that's a lot better for us.We don't really need him at all.

TAKABVIRA KARE - 21 January 2015

I propose that Robert rests in HELL forever! The guy is tired of everything in this world. Tired of killing pple, travelling to far east, destrying an economy, fighting gamatoxes, beinh harrassed by Grace, being denied access to Harrods. Let him rest forever, please!

Peter Kufahakuurai - 21 January 2015

let the president rest akomana, he did the fighting during the liberation struggle and freed us from these opressors, now its time for him to enjoy globetrotting and enjoy his sweat

joyce toka - 21 January 2015

Kanoda kuzorora hakachaziva zvakanoita

tree - 21 January 2015

The old dictator needs as much rest as possible, it is going to be a long affair in hell when he eventually kicks the bucket. Destroyed a country, once prosperous, today nothing but the laughing stock of the international community.

GeeSA - 21 January 2015

Kana akadzoka ozodiyi? Mugabe haana chaanoziva. Pamwe paanodzoka anenge akanganwa kuti akadzinga vamwe mu party achembera. Iye Mugabe arikuramba mudonzvo seyi vamwe vezera rake vave kufamba nemudonzvo?

Der - 21 January 2015

Wilbert Mukori,you are a star.Mugabe 's return will certainly cut our unnecessarily huge bill down.Otherwise nobody needs Mugabe for anything meaningful in Zimbabwe.

Gurukushwa - 21 January 2015

@joyce taka; why speak for him? he should go on national television and tell us all. I'm sure a lo of people with agree with him then.

selele - 21 January 2015

Please joyce taka,keep quiet if you have nothing to say.Mugabe never fought for anyone during the liberation struggle.He was fighting for himself so he could perpetuate our oppression&suffering.

kurwara - 21 January 2015

The one with the house on fire does not pursue rats.

farai - 22 January 2015

we hv suffered enuf under the hands of these corrupt people. its time uncle Bob reports to his maker in Heaven.

seke mutema - 22 January 2015

Let him rest guys

gumkumu - 22 January 2015

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